Getting that big stack

I find that often if I get the tournament lead early on, then I will go on to win the tournament, or finish high.

The question is how do you get that big stack if you are not getting good cards and not getting into big pots?

My first tactic is often to bluff as necessary in small pots enough to stay around the starting number of chips. The next tactic is to get them all in preflop, in which case you will either double up or lost, but this tends to result in just winning small pots preflop, especially early in a tournament when the blinds are low.

However, if UTG shoves and gets two callers, then even with a fairly mediocre hand like 86o in the blinds, then you are actually second favorite to win if the other hands are AA, QQ, and JJ.

If you do win, then you will take your stack from 5000 to 20000, or something like that and vastly increase your chance of winning the tournament. Now you can threaten smaller stacks with elimination at any time, and they will be cautious about bluffing you and you can afford to make your bluffs a bit bigger than usual to determine whether they really have hands that they are willing to go all the way with. When you float the flop then raise on the turn with nothing, that pts them in a tough spot as you can be representing trips or two pairs.

I think you should only consider this move with hands that are not dominated hands like suited aces and any hands containing a K, Q, or J, and suited hands are preferable as a flush is often the hand that takes down a pair of Aces.

In this kind of situation, you also have the distinct and delicious possibility that all three of the other hands are blocking each other, perhaps AK vs AK, or all three hands have aces.

With a medium pocket pair, I would be more inclined to fold.

Another tactic for an early double up is, when you flop top pair, is to check to opponent, then call their bet/bluff, then shoving the turn with top and letting opponents draw for a straight or flush with the odds against them if it looks like they are on a draw. This is risky as opponent may have top pair with a better kicker, or may have something better than top pair, but then again, an early double up puts you in the driver seat.

Once you have that megastack, you can play very tight for a long while and only play premium hands and pocket pairs preflop, looking to stack opponents with deceptive play.

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I had a hard time getting a big stack tonight and never had the lead until deep into the last table.

This hand was rather pleasurable. Because I tend the play the same 1-million chip entry tournament each night at 7:30 pm eastern time, I tend to see the same old gang in the later stages of tournaments every day and get to be quite familiar with their playing styles.

The opponent in this hand is always super aggressive and is quite successful on Replay Poker. So I decided to teach him a lesson if I could, and I happened to get lucky here.

I called a limp from the button with A4 offsuit, thinking that if no one raised preflop, an ace on the flop would most likely put me ahead, or I could just take the pot with a normal bluff bet if the flop was checked around to me.

I was pleased to see that I flopped a well-disguised 2-pair on the flop, and assumed that opponent would fold to my raise from the button on the flop when it appeared that they were both betting defensively in pursuit of draws.

In fact my opponent did not have the odds to draw for a low flush, but probably went for it because he also had the gutshot straight draw, so some extra outs.

When the turn brought me a boat, I was fairly sure that I was ahead as it did not seem likely that opponent held AA, and this was disaster for my opponent has both his flush and straight draws were now out of commission, so I just checked behind the opponent, hoping to give the impression of weakness. Either he would probably bluff on the river, or he would make a flush and make a value bet. That is what I thought, not knowing he had the inside straight draw.

When he shoved the river in a massive overbet, since this player is very aggressive, I assumed it must be a bluff. If he did have a flush, with what hand would I call that he was beating? AT perhaps, but then I had limped preflop and based on the flop betting it must have seemed unlikely to him that I had made trip fours on the turn.

Anyway, the cards were turned over and the rest is history. This hand put me in a good position and I went on to win.

One of the most common phenomena in tournaments is that players simple make mistakes. In this tournament the 2nd stack on the final table raised from the button with AK and then the third largest stack called from SB with a pair of tens, the flop came low, then the player with AK shoved the flop in a massive semibluff, was called by the pair of tens, and was crippled. and soon went out a few hands later.
A half pot bet would probably just as easily determine whether the opponent wished to continue.

Of course if he had AA, KK, QQ, or JJ it would have been a different matter, so maybe 3rd stack was a bit fortunate.

Here’s that hand. What do you think?

In my view, if you are 2nd stack it is rarely a good idea to take on 3rd stack in a fight to the death, and AK has its limitations, especially if you put in a preflop raise that screams “I have AK”. If it is folded to me in the SB with AK and the BB has a stack of similar size to mine or bigger, I will just limp and call if raised preflop and see what the flop brings. If I raise big preflop, either I will end up just taking down the blinds most of the time, or else I will have a fight on my hands if BB calls and I miss the flop, which could turn into a disaster, like happened here.

One of the advantages of limping with AK from SB or the button is that opponent never suspects that you have AK, and if you both flop top pair, then they will be outkicked. There will also be other opportunities to ambush the opponent and stack him with your unexpected AK.

This is horrifically bad, pre and post flop, by both players. Not uncommon to see but spewy nonetheless.

I don’t think people factor in the risk premiums required for certain stacks to go at each other. The highest premium is required for 2 large stacks facing off. In general, you want to keep pots small in cases where more EV is gained by busting out smaller stacks and laddering up.

If any BTN raise screams “I have AK”, there’s a problem. In a spot where someone should be opening a ton, a raise shouldn’t be close to this face up. Are people limping with everything up to AQ and JJ+?

Open enough so that they still won’t have a clue. If they overfold to raises, raise with a wider range. They will have to start playing back or be run over. Then, when you have AK, you still get action and a bigger pot. Look for the most efficient strategies (which don’t happen to be the sneakiest ones).